My First Pencil Skirt From My Block

Hand made Pencil skirt and Butterick 5526

Hi!  So, I've been talking about the skirt block class I've taken and I just want to wrap that up.  I gave all the info here so I wont go over that again, but I did want to talk about the process.  In the class, we went through a number of lessons over five weeks.  We learned how to make our own personal croqui by printing out a picture of ourselves and tracing over it.  We used these croquis to design our own skirts.  We could follow along with the instructor or design our own skirts.  The beauty of it is we drew on a version of our bodies so we saw how our designs would look on a real body.

Making my croqui

The rest of the course is building up to actually drafting your personal block, this block is based on your personal measurements.  The instructor is a couture designer and her background and expertise is in making custom garments (wedding gowns) for individuals.  This is valuable because your body is not like anyone else so you get a custom product.

I'm no artist but I did sketch a skirt!

The next step is taking your measurements and writing them down so you can draft your block.  The instructor has a studio you can visit in North Carolina or you can take pictures or Skype to get fit assistance, this was awesome.  You never felt alone in the process to figure things out and you are encouraged to use all resources available to you.  Another great thing is the info is available for you to review again and again ( I took advantage of this).

Muslin Fitting

I realized when drafting this block that my back darts were too short on commercial patterns and that I didn't need darts in the front.  I still have shallow darts but I didn't need the intake most patterns draft for the front.  They make the pattern wider and longer to accommodate bodies, but darts, dart intake and body shapes effect the fit and require some work on basic commercial patterns.  I now see the Palmer Plestch patterns in a new light and highly recommend any of these patterns from the McCalls pattern company.  Those lines on the pattern paper and extensive instructions are helpful to get a personalized fit.  They are the next best thing IMO outside of your own personal block and having a friend that can help you fit yourself.

My Skirt block

Pattern before I pegged the hem and drafted the facing.

Also, if you know a certified fit instructor, get them to take your measurements and help you with your block.  At Sew Camp, Cennetta the Mahogany Stylist helped me fit my shoulders and back and Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic helped with fit issues, it was epic.  Also, when I wen to the Sew Much Talent retreat everyone there helped take measurements and fit, Angela, Mr. Jim and Alethia were awesome! The next time i'm in the presence of sewing people, I will have at least two muslins to get fitted lol!!!

Inside the skirt and some hem tape

Practicing my catchstitch

After drafting your first version of your block, you make a muslin (yes, it's not a dirty word) mark it and assess fit.  There's lots of help assessing fit and this is where you begin to work on the final product.  It took a few fittings, a few tucks here, let out seams here, etc..  it was a process that worked.  Once you get the muslin to fit and everything is level, you can finalize your block and start drafting your skirt.

Side View

I made a basic pencil skirt with a facing and pegged hem.  It was very similar to my block but I pegged them hem an inch and drafted a facing by tracing front and back  inches from the waist closing the darts for the facing.   Construction instructions are similar to a skirt with a facing, I've made a few so I knew how to go about it.  I used inexpensive suiting and lining from Joann so I could make a wearable muslin and try out all the hand sewing techniques.  I like to make a wearable muslin because I like to wear my garments, get in and out of the car, go to work etc.. to see if things are the way I like them.  I've purchased RTW loved it in the store, wore it and hated the way it clung or rode up or whatever and I've also had that happen with garments I've made.  This is an opportunity to try things out and after wearing this all day, I realized I could take in the sides below the hip a little and I would still be comfortable. 

Back View

This wont change my block, but I will adjust my pattern to get a slightly closer fit for this skirt.  In my next skirt I did just that and I really like it (stay tuned for that skirt).  I guess what I'm trying to say is this was a five week course and I learned everything from sketching a skirt, to drafting a block to hand sewing.

Front view

I wanted to rush the process but the class is set up for you to take your time and learn each step.  I still refer to the material and for each skirt I make I will tweek just a bit to get the look I want.  I'm planning to show how I use my block on commercial patterns to assess fit, I'll also still use my patterns for techniques and finishes.

I'll stop here with the post but if you have questions, please ask.  I'll show you in the upcoming weeks how I use my block and if I design any skirts.  I'm very pleased with the class and the outcome of my personal block.


  1. Wow! What a great opportunity! Well done!

  2. Awesome, just awesome...proud of you....thanks for sharing

  3. Beautiful job!!! I like your catch-stitching.

    1. I really like this stitch, I hope to use it more.

  4. Great job, chica! The basic skirt block was the first thing I learned when I took my drafting class and it is easily a skill set that is a must learn.

    1. Yes! I’m excited to get the other blocks completed!


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